Last week I was cooking dinner, left the stove to take care of a few things, and returned to a stove with no heat. I was so confused and checked the dials, turned them down and back up again, and even made sure the stove was still plugged in. Of course, my final guess was the breaker. After finally getting the switch flipped, it left me with having to start dinner over. Not a huge deal, but doesn’t it always happen at the worst times? In this post, we’ll explore why your breaker keeps tripping, why it’s important, and how to fix it to make sure dinner is on the table in time.
⚠️ Remember to always exercise extreme caution when dealing with electricity and, if in doubt, seek the help of a professional electrician!
1. Overloaded Circuit
An overloaded circuit is the most common reason for a tripped breaker. It occurs when you plug too many devices into one circuit. The circuit can only handle a certain amount of electrical current, and the breaker trips when it exceeds the limit.
A common issue we see is with surge protectors. It’s important to be mindful of the number of devices you’re plugging into each one and to avoid daisy-chaining them together. If you need more outlets, installing additional outlets or even a new circuit to handle the load is better.
Unplug some devices or distribute them to different circuits.
2. Short circuit
Short circuits occur when an electrical current takes a path it is not intended to, creating an electrical circuit with little or no electrical resistance. This results in an excessive current flow and can cause a circuit breaker to trip or even start a fire. Short circuits are typically caused by damaged or frayed wires, loose connections, or improperly installed electrical components.
To avoid short circuits, it is essential to regularly inspect and maintain electrical wiring and components, avoid overloading circuits, and use electrical equipment and appliances that are properly rated for the electrical system in your home.
You will need to identify the location of the short circuit and fix it by replacing the damaged wiring or outlet.
3. Ground Fault
This can happen when an electrical device or wiring becomes damaged, causing the current to be redirected. Ground faults can be hazardous, as they can cause electrical shocks or even fires. Additionally, installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) can help prevent ground faults by quickly shutting off the circuit if an abnormal current flow is detected.
You will need to identify the location of the ground fault and fix it by replacing the damaged wiring or outlet.
4. Old Circuit Breaker
Circuit breakers have a lifespan of 30-40 years. They can pose many dangers beyond the simple annoyance of frequent tripping. As circuit breakers age, the internal components can become worn or damaged, leading to improper functioning. This can result in it potentially causing an electrical fire or damaging appliances and devices connected to the circuit.
How do I know how old my breaker is?
- Look for a date code or serial number on the board: The date code may consist of letters and digits representing the year, month, and week of manufacture.
- Check the documentation or manual: If you have the documentation or manual for the circuit board, it may provide information about the date of manufacture.
- Contact the manufacturer: They can provide information based on the serial number or other identifying information on the circuit board.
- Consult an expert: If you cannot determine the age of your circuit board, you can consult an electrical expert. They can examine the board and provide you with an estimate of its age based on its design and construction.
It’s crucial to have a licensed electrician inspect your circuit breakers regularly and replace them when necessary to ensure your home’s electrical system is safe and up to code.
5. Faulty Appliances
A faulty appliance can cause the breaker to trip. This can happen if the device has a short circuit or is drawing too much power. Some machines are more prone to tripping breakers than others, particularly those with electric motors or heating elements, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, space heaters, and hair dryers.
Common problems that can cause appliances to trip breakers include:
- Worn-out motors or heating elements.
- Damaged wiring or cords.
- Faulty electronic components such as circuit boards or sensors.
Immediately unplug the appliance and have it repaired or replaced. It is generally safe to unplug them when they malfunction as long as you take the necessary precautions:
- Before unplugging the appliance, please turn it off and ensure that your hands and the surrounding area are dry.
- Avoid touching any exposed wiring or metal parts, and use a dry towel or gloves to grip the plug and gently pull it out of the outlet.
- If the appliance is hot or smoking, do not try to unplug it; instead, call for professional help.
In conclusion, a tripped breaker can be a headache, but it can also be a warning sign of a potentially dangerous electrical issue in your home. By understanding why your breaker keeps tripping and how to fix it, you can ensure the safety of your home and family. Remember to always exercise caution when dealing with electricity and, if in doubt, seek the help of a professional electrician.
If you need electrical repair services in Indianapolis, contact Peterman Brothers. We can provide electrical rewiring, outlet repair and replacements, circuit breaker install and repair, and much more.